An Authoring Concept Mapping Tool for the Early Childhood Classroom

Gloria Gomez

This paper presents an Authoring Concept Mapping Kit that enables preschool children to verbally add meaning to symbolic representations. Building on the prior knowledge and strengths of the users, children and teachers, the Kit is comprised of tangible materials familiar to the early childhood classroom, with the addition of low cost, hand-sized, voice-input devices. Preschool teachers encourage their students to concept map with symbols as a way to overcome illiteracy. However, in practice unlabeled symbols cause four problems: they allow room for map misinterpretations, concepts cannot be distinguished from propositions, abstract concepts cannot be introduced, and linking phrases cannot be inserted. Two small pilot studies performed with kindergarten-age children will be presented. The testing outcomes demonstrate how the Kit effectively addresses these problems.

Gloria Gomez is an experienced designer interested in the area of technology-based applications for education. Former member of IHMC CmapTools Project, she is currently an Australian government and Swinburne University-funded doctoral student. Her research includes research for, the development of, and the testing of an authoring concept mapping tool for the Early Childhood Classroom.